School SLPs “Know It and Show It” Just blocks away from the vibrant Power and Light district in the heart of Kansas City, the brightest lights shone at ASHA Schools 2009 where 1,000 school-based speech-language pathologists networked with colleagues from across the country, learned about hot issues, and left inspired to become change agents by implementing new ... ASHA News
ASHA News  |   September 01, 2009
School SLPs “Know It and Show It”
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at
    Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   September 01, 2009
School SLPs “Know It and Show It”
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 1-18. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.14122009.1
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 1-18. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.14122009.1
Just blocks away from the vibrant Power and Light district in the heart of Kansas City, the brightest lights shone at ASHA Schools 2009 where 1,000 school-based speech-language pathologists networked with colleagues from across the country, learned about hot issues, and left inspired to become change agents by implementing new programs in their districts.
The 10th anniversary conference, held July 17–19, highlighted the success of the midsummer event, which grows in attendance every year. This year’s participants were urged to “know it and show it” in 25 interactive sessions on clinical topics and service delivery issues, 41 poster sessions, two plenary sessions, and 34 roundtable discussions. Nearly three dozen exhibitors set up displays, and six offered exhibitor education sessions.
Through a series of six-minute meetings—one of the latest networking trends—participants connected with 10 other people before the conference began. In a full-day workload implementation practicum, 28 participants developed plans for workload implementation in their schools. Other highlights included regional discussion groups and a dialogue about the economy.
Opening Session
The conference began with a focus on the core of the professions—communication—as SLP Susan Miller urged participants to “Speak Up, Speak Out, and Be Heard!” Miller, who began her career in the Pennsylvania public schools, drew on a background in voice coaching and communications consulting.
She addressed communicating effectively in presentations, impromptu speaking, and daily interactions, emphasizing the importance of a first impression. The overt message comprises only 7% of a first impression of a person, according to Albert Mehrabian’s research, while vocal tone is 38% and body language is 55%. Miller encouraged people to “own their space” by taking up more space when they sit, leaning forward to speak to others, and to mirror others’ body language to indicate understanding and empathy with the message.
Miller views a voice as “an instrument that we need to learn how to play” by analyzing diction, inflection, voice quality, pitch, range, and volume. She encouraged participants to calm anxiety before a presentation through “heart breathing,” by taking in air through the center of the chest.
In impromptu speaking opportunities such as committee meetings, Miller encouraged participants to come prepared to speak and to speak confidently. “You know your field—and your own talent—start to show it,” she said. “Warm up your voice, and glide when you walk.”
Speaking Out
Conference participants had the opportunity to speak out during regional meetings. These sessions brought together members with state education advocacy leaders (SEALs) in four major geographic regions to discuss key issues—speech-language pathology assistants, recruitment and retention strategies, and response-to-intervention (RTI).
Participants shared a number of creative and replicable recruitment and retention strategies. One participant noted that her union added a half-hour to the workday, which resulted in a higher salary. In Iowa, a $3,000 salary supplement is available to professionals working in a hard-to-staff school district. In Oklahoma, the state provides tuition reimbursement for master’s level clinicians in professions with a shortage; recipients agree to work one year in the schools for each semester of tuition reimbursement.
SLPs have won salary supplements in districts and states that recognize ASHA’s certificate of clinical competence as equivalent to the National Board for Professional Teacher Certification (NBPTS). In the Grain Valley School District in Missouri, SLPs have been receiving a salary supplement since 2007, said clinician Melinda Long, who added that she hoped that this victory would help other Missouri SLPs who hold the NBPTS. That appears to be the case; according to Brenda Martien, vice president for school services of the Missouri Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the state board of education recently determined that the CCC is equivalent to the NBPTS. Rules that accompany the decision will be released this fall.
Dining for a Cause
On Friday night, 200 participants dined at select restaurants and raised more than $1,000 for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation to support student scholarships.
On other nights, participants visited the Power and Light district—one of the nation’s largest downtown revitalization projects. As participants strolled among the district’s restaurants, bars, and stores, jazz musicians on a rooftop entertained the group at sunset against the city skyline.
Rewards from Risk
As the conference came to a close, President-elect Tommie Robinson brought SLPs back to the essence of speech-language pathology. Robinson noted four key activities in professional practice, which he calls the “CARE process”—clinical service, advocacy, research, and education.
“Advocacy becomes a part of our lives,” Robinson said. “There is no way we can get our jobs done unless we fight for what we need. We must be active in contacting policymakers.”
Moving from the basics to beyond involves risks, Robinson said, and some clinicians are proposing new clinical ideas, such as starting an RTI program. Clinicians may hear “no” in response, but Robinson urged them to persist and get to “yes.” “When you take the risk in going out and starting an RTI program, you are hitching your wagon to something that is larger than yourself,” he said.
Sharing wisdom from Ben Carson’s book, Take the Risk, Robinson encouraged clinicians to embrace acceptable risks in uncertain times. “We can’t eliminate all risks, and each of us must decide what acceptable risks are,” he said. “We have to determine how much of a risk we can tolerate. We have to draw on our resources to have the wisdom and knowledge about what is the right thing to do.”
Not all risks are bad, Robinson noted. “How many times have new things come from a risk?” What keeps us going, Robinson said, is “the possibility of serendipity, the kids we serve, the excitement of a new school year—and the hope that our ideas and visions will be realized.”
Watch The ASHA Leader and the ASHA Web site for details on Schools 2010, which will be held in Las Vegas on July 16–18.
Sessions Focus on Collaboration, RTI, and Internet Resources

At Schools 2009, a number of hot topics drew several hundred participants to sessions on Internet treatment resources, dynamic vocabulary instruction, and active engagement. Other popular sessions focused on literacy, written language assessment and intervention, service delivery models, services for English-language learners, apraxia, telepractice, and autism, which will be the focus of a 2010 Web conference.

Response-to-intervention (RTI) emerged as a focus in sessions, regional meetings, and poster sessions. “We’ve taken on the responsibility of impacting an entire school,” Nicole Power of Oklahoma said in a regional meeting. “We have a school-wide view of the curriculum, and as SLPs, we have a relevant skill set to bring to the table.”

In “What It Takes to Implement RTI,” presenter Barbara Ehren, director of the doctoral program in communication sciences and disorders at the University of Central Florida, said that RTI is most effective when the effort is owned by general educators, compensatory (Title I) educators, and special educators.

Ehren outlined the six stages of implementing RTI. Before launching their effort, SLPs should analyze the needs of staff and students, thinking about how they can affect academic performance. Participants were encouraged to start with small goals, such as collaborating in one classroom.

Poster presenter JoAnne Ridge said that she began collaborating with classroom teachers by approaching a single teacher. Noting that many students on her caseload were in the teacher’s class, Ridge asked if she could come into the classroom and provide instruction. “It’s important to respect the expertise of teachers,” she said.

SLPs should launch their efforts by assisting with school-wide literacy screening and then reviewing the results with guidance and special education staff. Next, SLPs can co-teach in special education classes and provide supplemental group instruction within general education classes. Finally, SLPs can modify their role by revising their responsibilities and service delivery methods. Contributions to school-wide success can be documented through a variety of methods: scores on high-stakes tests, referral rates and placement trends for special education, and graduation rates.

Session presenter Judy Kuster shared “Internet Gold for School Clinicians,” Web sites that have freely available materials that can be used for intervention with students and information for clinicians and parents.

“When I read The ASHA Leader, Judy Kuster’s columns are one of the first things I turn to,” said conference participant Sherri Rusch of Warrensburg, Mo.

To help spread the knowledge, Kuster began her presentation by empowering clinicians with search strategies to mine the Internet themselves. “There is much more to searching for information than typing information into Google,” she said. Kuster encouraged participants to choose search terms carefully, to use quotation marks for full-text searching, to conduct Boolean searches, or to type in a question.

Additional session handouts are online and the Schools 2009 Anthology, a bound set of handouts of all sessions, is available for purchase on the ASHA Web site.

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September 2009
Volume 14, Issue 12